The new Coloud Boom headphones challenge the preconceived notions of what people want from a pair of headphones. At RRP $49.95, these units slot into what is now the low-end of the mid-tier, which has been squeezed by the phenomenal growth at the top end, which has steadily moved upwards from the $200 mark to closer to $400 over the past five years, essentially since Beats disrupted the market.
The Boom range, which has been released in a set of six national colours (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, England, the Netherlands and Germany) and to coincide with the 2014 FIFA World Cup, are very stylish, with a streamlined form factor, a beautifully curved band and distinctive cans. The tangle-free cord, which has a patent pending, contains a 1-button in-line remote, and is attached to the base of the lead can, so it cannot be interchanged with a 3-button remote cord for greater iPhone control.
The use of national colour schemes is only very loosely related to the association football World Cup. There is absolutely no mention of the World Cup on any of the packaging — they are simply titled “Football Edition” — and it is likely that this is as close as the manufacturers, Zound Industries, can get to being footbally without infringing upon FIFA’s trademarks.
Look closer into the Coloud story and you realise that these Football Edition models are just a zeitgeist example of what the company is trying to achieve. On its website, users can mix and match colours from a wide spectrum of shades to personalise The Boom, while there are also other headphone and earphone styles, such as The Knock and The Pop, that consumers can choose from. All of these models operate at the similarly attractive and accessible price points and I think it is fair to say that Coloud is more a brand for style and comfort than for audiophile levels of sound reproduction.
The light blue Boom pair in the style of the much-fancied Argentina National Football Team (La Albiceleste; The White and Sky Blue) feels incredibly light and the plush outer cushion on the cans feels as comfortable on my ears as Lionel Messi is on the ball. The tangle free system, called ‘Zound Lasso’, really does seem to work. It’s a very flat, wide 1.2-metre cord and it actually adds to The Boom’s very chilled, minimalist styling.
The packaging of these headphones is first class. Merchandised in distinctive triangular transparent plastic, the headphones are visible to the consumer, unlike rival models where a full cardboard casing means only an image of the product is visible. Included in the pack is a Coloud sticker, an invite to Like Coloud on Facebook and a fold-out poster with instructions, specs and a Sudoku puzzle on the obverse and design concept highlighting a headphone’s components on the reverse. It’s actually quite nice and is in keeping with the overall hipster feel of The Boom.
Sound reproduction, however, is The Boom biggest drawback. As I sit here listening to 1998 by Chet Faker, there is an inescapable tinniness to the Boom’s playback. It’s as though something small but incredibly important is missing, like when you just know the slow cooked lamb shanks need a touch more rosemary.
That’s why I write that The Boom challenges the notion of what people want from a set of headphones. If it is about looking cool while rocking a pair of nationalistic headphones during the World Cup — and all for only RRP $49.95 — than these are definitely winners. If it’s about hard core listening well beyond the final in Rio on 13 July 2014 then perhaps consumers should consider stepping up to Zound’s other brand, Urbanears.
A final point about World Cup themed products. While interviewing Logitech ANZ MD Marcus Fry for UE’s edition of Soundbites 2014, I asked if Logitech’s range of World Cup peripherals would be coming to Australia. The answer is ‘no’ and the reason is that when you so clearly align your products with an event, you affix an artificial sell-by date onto your products. Coloud’s distributor, Amber Technology, is obviously prepared to take that risk.